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One Day After Election, Vacancy on Reston Association Board Surfaces

Victoria White stepped down from Reston Association’s Board of Directors Wednesday (April 11).

The vacancy comes just one day after four new board members were elected to serve on the nine-member board.

She stood alongside her colleagues on the newly formulated board at the conclusion of RA’s annual member meeting on Tuesday (April 10) when results were announced.

White who served as the Hunters Woods/Dogwood District representative resigned because she no longer lives in the district she represents, according to a statement by RA. She also served on RA’s covenants committee and the board governance committee.

RA will issue a call for candidates to fill the open seat, which expires in April 2020. The board will consider possible candidates at its May 24 meeting.

Information on when and how RA was made aware of the need for the change was not immediately available.

At a meeting on Wednesday, David Bobzien, formerly the board’s vice president, was elected board president. Sridhar Ganesan, formerly the board’s treasurer, was elected vice president.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

Photo via Reston Association

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2018 Reston Association Election: Meet Sridhar Ganesan

Voting in the 2018 Reston Association Board of Directors election will run from March 5 through April 2. This week, we will continue posting profiles on each of the candidates.

Featured here is Sridhar Ganesan, who is facing six other candidates for two at-large seats for a three-year term. The profiles are in a Q-and-A format. With the exception of minor formatting edits, profiles are published in unedited form. Each candidate had an opportunity to answer the same questions in their own words. 

How long have you lived in Reston? What brought you here?

I have lived in Reston for over 19 years. After an international finance and business degree from Columbia University, I was working out of New Jersey for Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin, when I traveled to Reston in 1997 for a conference.  My wife and I found this small new town to be charming.  After numerous trips to Reston over a year, we relocated here in 1998.

What brought me here was work, but what made me choose Reston from all of the neighboring towns was a combination of things:

The small town feel, lakes, open space, walkability, very little density, proximity to an airport and, believe it or not, I liked Reston for TRAFFIC.  Yes, even with fewer lanes on Reston Parkway and a very incomplete Fairfax County Parkway that did not run all along Reston, traffic flow was just fine then.

Reston seemed like a great place to drop down roots, chase my version of the American dream and raise a family. I am exactly where I want to be.

What inspired you to run for the board?

Seven years ago, I decided to leverage my varied and global experience for public service in civic issues and Education. I served on the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) budget taskforce in 2015 that identified potential cuts of up to $100 million to deal with expected funding shortfalls.

In 2012, I joined the Reston Citizens Association (RCA) board and served as its President from 2014 to 2017.  During that time, we opposed higher Planned Residential Community (PRC) density; the opening up of Reston National Golf Course for development; Town Center paid parking; and any re-development that would force low-income seniors out of Lake Anne Fellowship House.

Given its central role, we also focused on Reston Association (RA) and its serious missteps on the acquisition and renovation of the Tetra/Lakehouse property.  These experiences led me to the conclusion that the best place to reform RA was from within.

I now serve as Treasurer of Reston Association (RA) and am an At-Large Director.  With strong support from the current RA Board, I led the establishment of many operational reforms at RA, since my appointment in June 2017.   I want to finish what I started at RA, so I am running for a new 3-year At-Large Term to reinforce the reforms to make RA work better for its members.

What are three of the biggest concerns you have for Reston?

Density:  The issue of greatest importance to Reston is the County proposed increase in density from 13 to 16 persons per acre in Reston’s PRC district.  Combined with the growth in the Transit Station Areas (TSA), an increase in the PRC population from the zoned limit of about 74,000 to 100,000 seriously threatens the future of Reston we know today. Property developers recently expressed concerns about softness in the Reston market, so where is the demand and why the rush? Reston’s current transportation and other infrastructure cannot support such growth.  The public response has been a loud “NO” to higher density. RA’s role should be collaborative with its members and other community organizations to shape Reston’s destiny.

RA Operations, Processes, Controls:  A second major issue is completion of the restructuring of RA operations started by the current Board majority and assuring that these changes become ingrained in RA. There were some serious problems that the Tetra/Lake House property acquisition, renovation and planning showed.  They include:

  • The process of decision-making, the high purchase price, the questionable appraisal, the lack of negotiation, and inadequacy of the referendum materials.
  • The lack of controls, which led to serious cost overruns.
    Poor use planning for the property without fiscal responsibility or careful analysis.
  • Many improvements have been made during 2017, but continued focus on corrective action is necessary to make RA prudent, cost-effective and responsive to members.

What should RA be? Third concern is to work with sports groups, members, clusters and other groups to do some soul-searching on RA’s strategic vision.  Many RA assets are aging.  Replacing/updating them will cost more than the Reserve Study estimates.  Bumper sticker slogans such as “Wasteful Spending” are easy, but even hard work can only yield so much cost reduction without crippling services and RA operations, so that is not the answer to everything.  RA cannot be all things to all people, so it is time for an honest discussion about what RA should be and what it should deliver to its members.

What do you hope to accomplish by being on the board?

I want to continue the reforms instituted by the current Board and continue the positive change. I am leading the establishment and implementation of internal controls, oversight of policies and procedures to avoid a Tetra/Lake House repeat. I want to achieve the following for more effective functioning of RA for the benefit of members:

  • Complete a comprehensive analysis of recreational facilities (pools, ball-fields, tennis courts) to inform the public about usage/demand and member benefit, supply, revenues, expenses and cost to update or replace.
  • Comprehensive analysis and update of the Reserve Study for maintaining, replacing and updating aging RA assets.
  • Reinforce rigor in planning new investments, improvements to amenities, validate cost estimates, purchasing/contracting procedures, and ensure major projects and programs are implemented on schedule and within budget.
  • Make RA a leader in voicing/advocating for the community’s needs on issues like PRC Density and work in collaboration with members and community organizations.
  • Establish a process and system to seek out quantifiable member feedback on major issues and policies.
  • Continue to drive more transparency through open meetings, public reporting and disclosure, and to strengthen Board oversight of on-going operations.
  • Establish a routine process for review of RA rules and regulations for flexibility and materiality.

How will your personal or professional experience help you in your role with RA?

I bring 20+ years of operational, financial and executive leadership experience, including as Chief Financial Officer of a publicly traded company that I steered to a NASDAQ initial public offering.

My experience spans media, satellites, telecommunications, technology and education in the US and international markets.

I am an entrepreneur who has started-up several new ventures around the world and an executive who has helped restructure companies and businesses. My nature is to roll up my sleeves, dive into details, fix issues and get things done.

I have dedicated several hundred hours to digging into RA and it’s restructuring during my eight months as a very hands-on Treasurer and Director. I have demonstrated the vision, skillsets and passion necessary for public service. Some of the accomplishments are:

  • Achieved reduction in assessments; 1st time ever in RA’s history.
  • Shaped budget, led in-depth budget sessions, provided more public input opportunities than before.
  • Moved RA towards rigorous, analytical approach for programs and capital projects.
  • Driving the establishment of solid decision-making processes, internal controls, policies and procedures to avoid a repeat of Tetra/Lake House disaster.
  • Providing strong, diligent review of the adequacy of contracts and their performance.
  • Reconstituted, reformulated fiscal committee for greater engagement and Board support.

I believe that my background, commitment to public service, time and effort I have put into RA and the results achieved will help me as a board member over the next years.

Click here to view video statements or read candidate statements submitted to RA. 

Photo by Reston Association

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2018 Reston Association Board Election: Meet David Ballard

Voting in the 2018 Reston Association Board of Directors election will run from March 5 through April 2. This week, we will continue posting profiles on each of the candidates.

Featured here is David Ballard, who is facing three other candidates for the at-large seat for a one-year term. The profiles are in a Q-and-A format. With the exception of minor formatting edits, profiles are published in unedited form. Each candidate had an opportunity to answer the same questions in their own words. 

How long have you lived in Reston? What brought you here?

My family has lived in Reston since 2001, though we were overseas on diplomatic assignment from 2004-2010.

I am originally from Texas, but went to college in Washington and lived off and on in the DC area the various times I was assigned to Washington as a Foreign Service Officer.

In 2000, my mother moved to Reston from Texas because three of her four kids were living (or based, in our case) in the DC area. She lived in North Point and worked as a teacher at Lake Anne Elementary School. We stayed with her on a visit in 2000 and fell in love with Reston, which I don’t think I’d ever even visited before. When I was assigned to Washington in 2001, we didn’t even look anywhere else and bought a home in the Hunt Club cluster. During those years, our two sons started at Lake Anne and our daughter was born at Reston Hospital Center.

By the time we returned from overseas for another Washington assignment in early 2011, we had three school-aged kids and ended up in a different house–the one we still live in. At that time, we had a child at South Lakes, another at Langston Hughes, and a third at Lake Anne. Since then, two have graduated from South Lakes and the third is currently a student there.

What inspired you to run for the board?

You’ll be pleased to hear that one of the main reasons I was inspired to run for the Board is, in fact, Reston Now. I had not paid any attention to the website until 2015, when someone told me he’d read an article about my son’s SLHS track team on the site. So I signed up for the daily email from Reston Now and began to pay a lot more attention to our community’s issues. That, in turn, led to the notion that I had a voice and, perhaps, a role to play in those issues.

I retired from the Foreign Service in 2015 and have had a much more flexible schedule since then. While I still work part-time, including as an FCPS substitute teacher, I missed the “service” part of my former career, and- to be honest–after decades of supervisory responsibility in my assignments, missed having a leadership role in something I care about. (In this vein, Lord knows my family is tired of my presuming to assume a leadership role at home…) Most important, however, is that I truly enjoy being a part of a team that is working to fix, solve, or improve something, so when I read the call for candidates–on Reston Now, of course–I thought I might be useful to my community’s leadership.

What are three of the biggest concerns you have for Reston?

Like every other candidate, I am concerned about the potential–although I would say “inevitable,” not just “potential”–negative effects of increased population density, and want to avoid or mitigate them. Our back yard is on Wiehle Avenue, for example, so we now live next to two traffic jams per day during morning and evening rush hours. It had never crossed my mind that Reston might suffer such a thing as a rush hour until that happened. Maybe, with better planning, we can spare some of our residents that fate in the future.

Another concern I have is budget-driven cuts to quality of life components of the Reston experience. I was as annoyed as anyone when pool hours were shortened, for example, even though I admittedly didn’t know enough about the cost-to-usage ratio to have clear grounds to object. Still, that was emblematic of the kind of thing that I hate to see happen in Reston, whatever the reason might be.

The third concern I have is more abstract. It is preparing Reston’s future in the county and the entire DC area. We’ve seen the impact of the Silver Line, so what is the future impact of even more Silver Line? If Amazon chooses Northern Virginia for its second headquarters, what will that mean for Reston? In other words, we have to be ready to contend with probable changes to the overall Northern Virginia environment in order to protect and promote Reston’s special–and I believe it is special–status in that region.

What do you hope to accomplish by being on the board?

I’d like to think I’d be a hardworking, thoughtful team member who accurately and honestly represents the concerns of the people of Reston. What is probably most important to me, however, is that I would hope to reflect the aspirations of our community as we move forward. I don’t think the RA Board’s role is just to protect a way of life or to hold back the forces of change. We should also be a channel for projecting and promoting whatever constitutes positive evolution for the Reston way. Reston is not what it was when it was founded, but that doesn’t mean we throw up our hands or mourn our loss when we can choose to identify and work toward an even better Reston.

How will your personal or professional experience help you in your role with RA?

Maybe the best way to answer this is to copy and paste–unedited– the opening summary of the resumé I use in my rather desultory “second career” job search. Your readers–and, ultimately, Reston voters– can decide if these qualifications and experience are compatible with service on the RA Board.

Former U.S. Senior Foreign Service Officer skilled in leading and coordinating interagency teams to define, promote, and execute U.S. policy while simultaneously directly managing US Government operations at diplomatic posts in Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and Washington. Proven morale builder in difficult environments, guiding diverse groups to cooperate in analysis and reporting of relevant context while developing tactics and strategies to advance specific objectives. Outstanding communicator, comfortably works in several languages and in challenging circumstances, including war. Accustomed to supervising multiple sub-units and managing multi-million dollar budgets. Significant experience working with U.S. military and U.S. businesses. Top secret security clearance.

Click here to view video statements or read candidate statements submitted to RA. 

Photo by Reston Association

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